Mopane Worms Topic of Paper Presented by UKZN Academic at Conference in Germany
A UKZN Lecturer addressed a conference in Germany on the commercialisation of the mopane worm as a food source.
Dr Lloyd Baiyegunhi of the Discipline of Agricultural Economics in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) spoke on the issue at the annual Conference on Tropical and Subtropical Agricultural and Natural Resource Management (Tropentag), organised by the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) in Müncheberg and the Humboldt-Universität Berlin.
Baiyegunhi presented a paper titled: “Commercialisation of the Mopane Worm (Imbrasia belina) in Rural Households in the Limpopo Province, South Africa”.
Mopane worms are caterpillars from the emperor moth Imbrasia belina, which feed virtually solely on the mopane tree Colophospermum mopane. They are a valuable Non-Timber Forest Product (NTFP) resource used for subsistence and sold to generate income by rural households in southern Africa.
Baiyegunhi’s presentation was informed by the work of a UKZN Agricultural Economics Masters student, Ms Beatrice Oppong, who graduated in 2014 and was supervised by Baiyegunhi and Ms Grany Senyolo.
Three papers have been published in scientific journals from this research, covering several issues including the contribution of mopane worm to rural households’ food security and livelihood.
The paper received considerable attention at the Conference, which is a development-oriented and interdisciplinary event. Given that the theme was “Management of Land Use Systems for Enhanced Food Security - Conflicts, Controversies and Resolutions”, Baiyegunhi’s presentation fitted well into the focus by addressing the implications that continued over-exploitation and commercialisation had for long-term management of the mopane woodlands in the northern parts of South Africa.
Tropentag is designed to provide a forum for the discussion on issues such as resource management, environment, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food, nutrition and related sciences in the context of rural development, sustainable resource use and poverty alleviation worldwide.
The Conference attracted more than 1 000 participants from 62 countries - an all-time record for the annual event. According to Baiyegunhi, the event featured interesting, encouraging, and sometimes controversial discussions as well as many impressive posters documenting high level research, with over 140 oral presentations covering all fields of research related to development.